A Week at French Ridge

by
The View from French Ridge Hut

The View from French Ridge Hut

I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at French Ridge Hut last week. We had an unusual clear spell of almost cloudless blue skies, day after day. More times than not, the wind can howl on this ridge, making it difficult to make the journey to the privy, perched on the ridge, (so helicopters can more easily pick up the poop canisters).

Near Mt. Avalanche-Gloomy Gorge

Near Mt. Avalanche-Gloomy Gorge

I recently heard of one fellow who was sent to his death when the hut he was in, was blown off the mountain. I’m sure some of the readers have been on a fire lookout tower in high winds, having complete trust in the structure. Hmmm. Makes one think.  Be sure to inquire or check to see if the hut you’re in has tie-down cables. French Ridge does not. I trust the architect, up to a point. It depends  on how strong are the gale force winds. This is a bit tongue in cheek, or ice axe in ground.

Waterfall Rainbow, Gloomy Gorge

Waterfall Rainbow, Gloomy Gorge

French Ridge and the environs is a magical place. It’s getting a lot of traffic from hikers as well as climbers. I was there later in the season, (just last week), when traffic to and from the Collin Todd Hut, and Mt. Aspiring had been halted due to the Quarterdeck section of glacier coming down from the Bonar Glacier was breaking up too badly to allow passage.

Monkeying around on the "Quarter Deck"

Monkeying around on the "Quarter Deck"

We decided to monkey around on the lower ramparts of the Quarterdeck anyway,  for a day of walking, crevasse rescue and rope team travel practice, and a little bit of climbing in some dramatic scenery. While we were rather restricted in where we could actually go, we still had fun. The dry glacier provided some great ice climbing practice. I love glacier ice, which is a far cry from New

More playing around on some "safe" broken up bits.

More playing around on some "safe" broken up bits.

Hampshire’s Frankenstein Cliff’s. I’ve just read a piece on climbing on the Fox Glacier that has me interested in doing some glacial ice there.

Kea in Flight w/Moon, French Ridge

Kea in Flight

At the hut and just above, Keas, which are amazing Alpine parrots,  seemed our constant companions. I figuring out when they would take off, and got some snaps of them in flight. One, at the hut, the other with Mt. Avalanche in the background just above the hut. They are very personable and curious creatures, if not troublesome.  When we arrived at the hut on Day 1, the door to the was open, and the keas had made themselves at home, leaving the place a mess.

Kea, Amanda, Mt Avalanche

Kea, Amanda, Mt Avalanche

Just across from the Hut, on the ramparts of Rob Roy, is an impressive waterfall. It’s interesting and beautiful because the water comes piling down and hits a flat plateau, shooting the water out into space, like a jet stream. Then when the sun is hitting the wall just right, a rainbow is formed.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: